I go to Pittsburgh to give a talk at SC 2004. I encounter Ed Hubbard in the Dallas airport. No food on the planes, and I arrive hungry. My hotel (the Omni William Penn) is in a deserted downtown with no Kwikee Marts, so I get a bowl of chili and a Penn Dark (not recommended) at the bar downstairs.

The talk goes OK. I run into Gilles and Derrick afterwards. Then I flee the premises and try to find wireless connectivity. They can pump 20 GB/second through the Internet (or maybe the name has been changed to GridNet) but you can't check your email. A dour conference employee complains bitterly about 'The Foreigners'.

The hotel has wireless but it doesn't work either. Since I have nothing else to do, I call the 800 number and spend an hour with the spiritless but capable Amber, and finally get it working.

At 5:30 Bert picks me up and we have dinner at a Japanese place. Bert inquires about the Shabu-shabu - it's on their menu but hasn't ever actually been available. There's always an excuse and a promise. Today, they say, the pot is missing, but they expect it to turn up tomorrow.

We go to the local climbing gym. The guy who gives belay tests is sick so we settle for bouldering, which turns out to be quite good. House rules: unmarked footholds are on, and they have some VBs (B for beginner). My lone triumph, a sloth-like heel-hooked traverse, impresses some climber chicks. Bert does very well but suffers from some hand/wrist pain.

We retire to Bert's house. His dog (Cori) greets me with a battering-ram-like snout to the groin. We take Cori for a walk, then have a beer and gab for an hour or two while Monday Night Football plays in the background.

Next day it's fairly cold (30s) and people look at my sandaled feet as if I'm outta my mind. I get to the airport early, and enjoy excellent and free wireless access there.